Belgravia, Epix’s addictive new series, stars Tamsin Greig and Harriet Walter. Here’s our review of the eye-catching period drama.
Belgravia, another highly anticipated period drama from Julian Fellowes, falls in Downton Abbey’s shadow. Even the music from Downton and Belgravia’s composer John Lunn is reminiscent in sound. But is Belgravia as good as its predecessor? And should we even compare?
Rather than an extended TV Series, Belgravia is a 6-part drama with a satisfactory ending. And unlike Fellowes’ other extravagant costume dramas, Belgravia is based on his own 2016 novel.
Furthermore, Julian Fellowes makes a rather unusual choice in his female protagonists. Belgravia examines two older women joining forces when inheritance and scandal reach both families instead of a young ingenue seeking love and marriage.
The compelling characterizations of Anne Trenchard (Tamsin Greig) and Caroline, Countess of Brockenhurst (Harriet Walter), make Belgravia such a fascinating drama. The excellent performances from these talented stage and film actresses are exciting to watch as they interact intelligently off one another. As a whole, their conversations are sophisticated and the dialogue superb (if not always accurate to the period), creating a great hook to keep us tuning in.
What Belgravia is About (Minor Spoilers)
Belgravia begins in Brussels during the historic night before the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. At the lavish and legendary ball, the night before the battle, a younger Anne warns her beautiful daughter Sophia not to trust her newfound love Lord Edmund Bellasis. Even during the war, the differences in classes are in full power and on display.
While the Trenchards are a tradesman family with newfound wealth, Sophia is still of low birth. Unlike her social-climbing husband, James (Philip Glenister), Anne is more practical about the chances of Sophia marrying Edmund, a young man from a prestigious family.
But Sophia and Edmund fall in love anyway. And that same night, Sophia even believes she marries Edmund. That is until she sees “the vicar” as a soldier in Edmund’s regiment. Edmund goes off to battle, and Sophia remains behind feeling the full sting of betrayal.
But the scandal and tragedy don’t stop there. Tragically, Edmund dies in the battle, and Sophia is left behind only to die not long after him. That fateful night sets in motion a scandal that will haunt the Trenchards 25 years later.
Now the 1840s, the Trenchards live in London much wealthier than before. But they have a secret that starts to come undone, a secret that collides with the Countess of Brockenhurst. Should Anne tell Caroline, or should everything stay hidden in the memories of 1815?
Meanwhile, Caroline and her husband, the Earl of Brockenhurst (Tom Wilkinson) worry his fortune will fall into the hands of his gambler brother and despicable nephew, John Bellasis. Truly, John is a duplicitous man hungry to inherit a fortune no matter what. He’s also engaged to the kind and intelligent Lady Maria Grey (Ella Purnell), who has no desire to marry him.
Instead, she falls for the sweet, if somewhat uninteresting, Charles Pope (Jack Bardoe). Indeed, the love story takes a backseat to the female characters and murderous intrigue. But, as you like both Maria and Charles, you’ll still root for a happy ending.
In the meantime, scandals threaten to come out. This is partially thanks to the devious servants of the Trenchards and evil scheming of John Bellasis, who also happens to be having an affair with Anne’s daughter-in-law (Alice Eve). To prevent a scandal, Caroline and Anne work together to create a happier ending for both families.
Overall Thoughts on Belgravia
Darker in tone, Belgravia reminds me more of a Trollope novel than Downton Abbey. Sure, the musical score sounds particularly similar, but Belgravia is more scandalous. More intrigue and inheritances. It even has more melodrama. Plus, there aren’t any likable downstairs characters.
However, what Julian Fellowes continues to thrive on is creating striking female characters. Belgravia is a story of intelligent and strong women who use everything to prosper in a world dominated by men. Overall, if you love Victorian period dramas with beautiful costumes, mesmerizing characters, and a plot evocative of a Dickens novel, Belgravia is the costume drama for you.
Content: Rated TV-14 for an extramarital affair and violence. Nothing explicit.
Where to Watch: You can stream Belgravia on Epix or Amazon Prime Video with Epix add-on. You can also watch the first two episodes on Amazon Prime Video.
Do you agree with our Belgravia review? What are your thoughts on this new period drama series? Leave a comment below.
Top Photo Credit: Epix
“You had me at hello.”
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a
matter of chance.”